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Deadline nears for Swiss bank claims

ZURICH, Aug. 1 (JTA) — Holocaust survivors or their heirs who believe they have a valid claim on a dormant Swiss bank account dating back to the Holocaust era have until next week to file claims.

In February, Swiss banks published the names on 21,000 accounts that may have belonged to Holocaust victims. At the time, they imposed a six-month deadline to claim those accounts.

The Claims Resolution Tribunal, which is overseeing the claims process, says it has already received some 25,000 claims.

The tribunal also says it has processed 10,000 of these claims and approved payments to Holocaust survivors totaling $40 million.

The total number of names published in February was far lower than what some U.S. banking officials had sought.

Jewish groups representing survivors had a similar reaction, saying the process of returning survivors’ assets necessitates full access to bank records.

Swiss banking officials refused — but, in a compromise, said claimants who have a reasonable case could request a full database search.

Survivors have long complained about delays in the restitution process.

Given the survivors’ advanced age, every delay means that some survivors would not live long enough to get their money.

Advocates for survivors estimate that some 1,000 survivors around the world die each month.

In 1997, Swiss banks published two separate lists published that included some 16,000 names linked to dormant accounts.

Further information and claims forms are available at: http://www.dormantaccounts.ch.

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